Legislators Plan on Introducing Bill to Increase Sewage and Sediment Fines

A December 18 Capital Gazette article reports that two State legislators, Senator Bryan Simonaire and Delegate Barbara Frush, have announced that they will introduce legislation that would double current fines for sewage and sediment pollution into Maryland’s waterways.  The new fines would range from $10,000 to $100,000.  MACo has opposed such fine increases in the past, noting that they often fall on local governments (and hence taxpayers) and reduce the ability of the local government to actually address the problem.  From the article:

[Senator Simonaire] said he has been working with the Maryland Department of the Environment on the legislation, one of five bills in what he called a “Save the Bay” package.  …
Simonaire said violators aren’t getting punished for polluting the waters.

“They are just getting slaps on the wrist,” he said. “This would be a meaningful penalty to these people.”  …

The fines proposed by Simonaire would go to the Maryland Clean Water Fund. Money that should be used to clean the bay has improperly gone toward funding government, he said.

“I hear people say, ‘I want the bay to be clean, but I’ve been here for 50 years and I need to pay for the bay but not seeing results,’” Simonaire said. “They are skeptical that this money is actually going to get to the bay.”

The article cites a sediment violation by Reliable Contracting Co. of Millersville while working on an Anne Arundel County project.  Reliable Contracting General Manager Michael Abbot argues that the State’s sediment and erosion control regulations are almost impossible to comply with:

“The state at this point has created a regulation that I don’t believe is feasible to be met,” [Abbot] said.